ALMOST 200 MILLION Europeans have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), according to the latest figures available for 2013.
The number of cardholders is on the rise, with 8 million more citizens carrying a card in 2013 compared to the previous year.
The card comes in handy if you get ill when you are away on holidays.
Instead of being handed a huge bill in a foreign hospital, this card guarantees that you are entitled to treatment in any public hospital in any of the 30 countries at a reduced cost or even free.
The EHIC cannot be used to cover planned medical treatment in another country.
Which countries are you covered in?
The card can be used in the following countries:
Spain (including the Canary and Balearic Islands)
Hospitals that provide public health services are obliged to recognise the EHIC.
However, there have been cases of refusals, due to a lack of awareness on the part of healthcare providers.
In case the EHIC is not accepted, patients should contact the relevant health authority in the country they are visiting. If they still encounter problems, they should contact the European Commission. They will investigate the claims and raise the issue with the authorities of the country concerned.
Any person who is ordinarily a resident in Ireland can apply for one of the cards either online here or you can download a form here. If you have a smartphone you can also download the free EHIC App to help you contact health services in the country you are visiting.
If your card has expired, you can also renew it online with just a few details. The card will need to be renewed every two years.